Posts for fivethirtyeight

FiveThirtyEight Reminds You that the Eagles Aren’t Out of it Yet

Jim Adair - December 18, 2014

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But it doesn’t look good: We all know this weekend’s Eagles game is a must-win, because losing would put a nail in the coffin of their season and also be super embarrassing. But the Dallas/Indianapolis matchup is just as important (maybe more so) in determining the Eagles’ immediate fate. FiveThirtyEight, as always, has done the math on this.

If the Eagles win, Dallas’ chances to make the playoffs drop only down to 77.8%, while the Eagles’ chances leap up to 48.9% — actually not too shabby. But the biggest break the Eagles could get (obviously) would be for Dallas to lose to the Colts. With a Dallas loss, the Eagles’ playoff chances go from 39.5% to 57.8%. With a Cowboys win, they drop to 23.5%. And if Dallas beats the Colts or the Eagles lose to the Redskins, the Cowboys’ playoff chances hop up to an almost identical percentage in the 93% range.

And finally, in totally (hopefully) unrealistic odds, if the Redskins beat the Eagles, the Birds’ playoff chances dip down to 7.8%, which might as well be a five-win season for some.

The Eagles Can Give Themselves a 75% Chance of Getting a Bye with a Win Against the Seahawks

Jim Adair - December 4, 2014

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After beating the Cowboys on the road for sole possession of first place in the NFC East, it almost feels like the big game is behind us for now. But Sunday’s afternoon’s game against Seattle has major implications too, especially for the first round bye.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Eagles currently have a 48.8% chance of getting said bye. With a win against Seattle, that percentage jumps by 25.3%(!), and a loss drops it down 29.4%. That swing of 54.7% means the Eagles’ bye chances increase to 74.1% with a win, and slip down to 19.4% with a loss.

Though there is much more at stake in the AFC’s games this week — another 55 point swing for Miami in terms of playoff chances — the Seahawks/Eagles matchup is the most important in the NFC.

The big game against Dallas is over, sure. But now it’s on to the next one. And after that? Another potential first-place-on-the-line clash.

[The Eagles don’t hold all their own, ahem, Cards yet. Arizona and Green Bay are both 9-3, too, and hold tiebreakers over the Birds. But, the Cardinals appear to be heading in the wrong direction and have to play the Chiefs, Rams, Seahawks and 49ers.]

Check out all the scenarios here.

H/T to (@smokesdawg88)

FiveThirtyEight Says the Sixers Could Get their First Win Tomorrow… or at the End of February

Jim Adair - December 2, 2014

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The Sixers are currently 0-17. They probably won’t go 0-82. So, in between those marks, they’ve got to win at least one game. But when? According to simulations run by FiveThirtyEight, it’s probably sooner rather than later, but it could be much, much later.

To build the simulation, Neil Paine turned to betting-market-based team ratings — “which use the gambling lines from every game to derive each team’s ‘generic points favored’ (or the amount by which we’d expect the team to be favored against an average team).” After figuring that out for every game left on the Sixers schedule, they ran 1,000 simulations to determine where the losing streak will end. The result it in the graph above, but here are some numbers on it:

In our set of 1,000 simulations, Philadelphia’s losing streak has an average length of 20.7 games. The streak most commonly ends with a victory Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a game in which the Sixers have a relatively high (by their standards) 30.9 percent probability of winning. In 60 percent of simulations, the streak ends sometime in the team’s next three games (the last of which is on Saturday night), and 91 percent of simulations see it end before Christmas.

However, there is one dark simulation in which the Sixers lose 54 consecutive games before finally snapping their skid against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 22, 2015.

I thought they’d beat Boston, I was wrong. I thought they’d beat the Knicks, I was wrong. I think they’ll beat the Pistons on Saturday, but really, it’s all a crapshoot at this point.

The Sixers: America’s train wreck.

FiveThirtyEight Continues to Place Cowboys Atop the Odds to Win the Division

Jim Adair - October 29, 2014

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Over at FiveThirtyEight, when they aren’t previewing the NBA, they’re continuing to breakdown the NFL. One of the ways they’ve chosen to do that this year is by adopting “Elo Ratings” — more commonly used in chess and modified for Association Football — to the NFL, and using those ratings to predict wins, losses, and playoff odds. The rating takes into account past success, win margins, history, etc. (more is explained over here if you want to read into it).

In weeks one through four, the ratings had the Eagles favored to win the division. But in Week 5, the birds and Cowboys switched spots, though the Eagles have never dipped below a 36% chance to win the division or a 51% chance to make the playoffs since then. Also over that time, the Eagles raised their projected wins from 9.6 to 10.6 (now back down at 10.1), while the Cowboys, who peaked at 12.0, are now just above the Eagles at 10.8.

About those playoff odds, Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight said:

At any rate, Dallas’s upset loss had real implications for the NFC East derby. Despite the Eagles’ loss, the Cowboys’ odds of winning the division dropped from 66 percent to 53 percent. Philadelphia’s chances jumped from 33 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, both teams lost ground in the wild card race — Dallas’s odds fell by 2 percentage points, and the Eagles’ chances dropped by 14 percentage points, more than any other team in the league. Much of that lost wild-card probability was soaked up by the NFC West, where Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco’s chances increased by a combined 22 percentage points.

If both teams continue on this path, it could set up a Thanksgiving Day showdown for the ages. With that in mind, a part of me would love to see a 9-2 Eagles team face off against a 9-2 Cowboys team, but that’s the thinking part. The feeling part of me wants to see Dallas at 6-5 by then.

FiveThirtyEight Previews the Sixers’ Season, Predicts 20 Wins

Jim Adair - October 27, 2014

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A lot more optimistic than USA Today: Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight profiled the seven teams they don’t think will make the playoffs out of the Eastern Conference today, and the Sixers got name-dropped in the headline. In a post entitled “2014 NBA Preview: The Sixers Are Going Nowhere Fast,” FiveThirtyEight’s Ian Levy is actually pretty positive about the (according to them) bottom-of-the-barrel team. Yes, they’re in full-tank, but they’re also making progress:

The Sixers are doing something more complex than simply losing games: They’re creating an offense. Under previous head coach Doug Collins, Philadelphia played at a relatively slow pace and was comfortable relying on mid-range jumpers for a significant portion of its offense. Last season, with Brett Brown at the helm, the 76ers made drastic changes …

The Sixers may not have found their franchise player yet, but they do know how they want the pieces around that hypothetical future star to play. Sixers ball is now up-tempo ball, with lots of defensive pressure and an efficient distribution of shots by the team’s role-players.

All of the focus on the Sixers when looking towards the future has fallen in Hinkie’s direction, but Brett Brown is in fact making his mark on the style of play the team is playing, whether it be by necessity or style. The team doesn’t take mid-range shots and tries to get down the court as fast as possible and get to the hoop (Young. Fun.Run. Dunk., etc.). The team may not have much to offer in terms of winning and scoring right now, but once they do, they’ll have a style in place that they’ve honed over years of trial and mostly error.

In addition, at Complex‘s awesome NBA Jam-themed season preview, Ralph Warner hits it right on the head: “If Rihanna shows up to sit courtside at a Philly game, it will be the equivalent to the 76ers winning the championship. It’s really the best they can hope for at this point.”